I have a confession: I’m a bit of a neat freak.
I am a tiny bit obsessive about having a clean house, and I tend to get a little stressed when things aren’t in order at home. Of course, between work, parenting, and life it can be more than a little bit challenging to find time to actually keep my home clean. However, I’ve gotten more and more efficient over the years at keeping my home clean without a ton of extra effort – it just takes a little bit of practice!
Here are my best tips for keeping a tidy home with minimal effort:
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1. Set a timer. This is my most frequently-used strategy for keeping my house clean when I’m not in the mood to actually clean. I’ll set a timer for a short amount of time (usually 10 or 15 minutes) and force myself to do nothing but clean until the time is up. When I’m in a good habit of doing this every single day, my house stays so much cleaner and it only takes a few minutes out of my evenings. I’m always amazed by how much can be accomplished in 10 minutes!
2. Baskets, baskets, baskets. Baskets are my secret weapon for keeping my home looking clean and tidy with a two-year-old running around. We have several of them all over our house and they all have very specific purposes (like books in the living room, Jackson’s trains, Jackson’s Legos, etc.). If I need to clean up in a hurry I can just throw everything in a basket and suddenly it looks like I have it all together. It takes about 5 minutes to clean up my living room even when it’s a disaster zone! My favorite types of baskets are big, deep woven ones and fun patterned ones.
3. Utilize the two-minute rule. If you can accomplish a task in two minutes or less, do it now rather than waiting until later. If you have this mindset, you’re a lot more likely to stay on top of the little things around the house and those annoying tasks won’t pile up. I’ve also heard of it as the “one-touch” rule – try to only touch things in your home once before they’re put away. Meaning, don’t move clutter from one room to another before finally putting it away – put it exactly where it belongs the very first time.
4. Focus on the major traffic areas. Not every space in your home needs to be perfectly clean at all times. Reminding myself of this is a great way to ease some of the stress when we’re having people over and helps my home feel cleaner overall. When I need to get things looking nice in a hurry, I tackle the living room, dining room, and kitchen and forget about the rest – if the main pathways of your home look good, it’ll give off the impression that your whole home is clean!
5. Do a pick-up before bed. Every night before we head up to go to sleep, I try to do a quick sweep of the house and make sure things are at least slightly in order before I turn in. Then, when I come down the next morning I don’t feel like I’m walking into chaos – having everything put away makes my whole home feel more peaceful. Sometimes it feels like a lot of effort to do this, but then I remind myself that it takes 5 minutes or less to actually get it done, so there’s absolutely no reason not to!
6. Tackle one room at a time. When I’m actually cleaning, I find that I’m so much more efficient if I only allow myself to focus on one room at a time. So, if I find something that belongs in the living room while I’m cleaning the kitchen, I’ll just set it in the right room and go back to the room I’m cleaning. When I don’t do this, I end up wandering from room to room intending to put things away but actually getting distracted by other little tasks that need to be done. So while I feel like I’m cleaning, I’m usually doing more puttering around than actual work. When I focus on just one room at a time, I’m more likely to stay focused and get everything done.
7. Have a routine – and stick to it! For a while, I had a cleaning chart for Corey and I of nightly cleaning tasks that needed to be done – we ended up falling out of the habit of doing it, but our home was so much cleaner when we were doing it! I’m trying to get back in the habit of a cleaning schedule this summer, though, and I’ll stick to it this time! For example, I might mop on Mondays, clean the bathrooms on Tuesdays, deep clean the kitchen on Wednesdays, etc. This helps me make sure that I’m actually cleaning all parts of my house on a regular basis, and breaking it into smaller chunks makes it feel more manageable.
8. Make your bed. There’s just something about a bed that’s made that makes a whole room feel clean. It takes about 2 minutes for me to make my bed each morning, and it makes me so much happier to have it done.
9. Know what matters to you. I’ve learned that in order for my home to truly feel clean to me, my kitchen has to be clean. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the house is absolutely spotless, if the kitchen isn’t clean I feel like the whole house is a mess. I’m also very picky about our floor – I walk around barefoot 99% of the time, so if I can feel dirt under my feet when I’m going from room to room, I start to feel the urge to do some cleaning. So, when I just have a few minutes to tackle a cleaning task or two I know that I need to start with the kitchen or the floors – just taking care of those two things will make my home feel a million times cleaner to me!
10. Give yourself grace. Above all, this is probably the most important habit to adopt. It’s also the hardest for me. Your home will not be clean all the time. No one’s home is. Sometimes the mess just means you’re having lots of extra fun! The less you stress about having a clean home, the easier it will be to actually find time for what matters – and I’ve also found that the more grace I give myself in this area, the more likely I am to find time to get cleaning done!
As a quick bonus tip, here are a few of my absolute favorite cleaning products and tools. I’m a sucker for a good cleaning product – if I’m going to be cleaning, I want to enjoy myself while I’m doing it!
What are your best tips and habits for keeping your home clean?